Updated January 2022
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Buying guide for Best garment bags

While you can find many great luggage sets to use in your travels, it’s curious that sets often don’t include a garment bag, leaving you to find one separately.

Business travelers aren't the only ones who need a good garment bag. They also come in handy for traveling with formal wear, and can even be used as a replacement for a regular bag.

Once you decide to add a garment bag to your set, there’s much more that goes into the decision of which will work best for you. First, you need to determine the type you want, as you want it to fit your particular traveling and garment needs. Then, you need to decide on the individual features that you’re looking for in a garment bag.

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Make sure your clothing is not only clean or dry cleaned, but it’s ironed if needed, as clean non-wrinkled items travel better.

For more than just business suits

When we think of garment bags, we often think of a harried business traveler, bustling through the airport with the garment bag slung over one shoulder and a cup of coffee in the other hand. Still, garment bags have many more uses.

To start with, they’re not just for keeping your business attire wrinkle-free. They also work really well for formal wear, such as when traveling to a wedding, even if you’re only driving across town.

With all the additional compartments in garment bags, they don’t even need to be constrained to just keeping formal clothes neat and pressed. You can put all your clothing in some of them, and can also fit other necessities, such as personal items, shoes, and toiletries.

Additionally, they’re not just suitable for air travel. They work out great in any travel situation, such as by car, train, and even on a cruise. They’re perfectly suited for taking a tuxedo or cocktail dress to wear for the formal nights that cruises often include.

Types of garment bags

While you may have just one image in your mind when picturing a garment bag, there are actually several different types. These fit with several different packing and traveling scenarios:

  • Inside Another Bag: Some garment bags are designed to either fit inside another suitcase or be carried on their own.

  • Main Suitcase: These garment bags, when folded up, are the size of a regular suitcase. They can handle just about everything, while also keeping the clothing flat and organized.

  • Additional Bag: Somewhere between a garment bag that fits inside another suitcase and one that holds everything, this type of garment bag will keep your clothing flat, while the rest of your items travel in a separate bag.

  • Carry-On: These garment bags fit within the size guidelines to be stored underneath your seat, or in the overhead bins on a flight.

  • Built-In Garment Bag: These are regular suitcases that have a garment bag, sometimes called a garment sleeve, built into the “lid” of the suitcase.
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Did you know?
Linen is a difficult fabric to travel with, whereas wool relaxes on its own, with the wrinkles falling out while hanging up overnight.

Garment bag features

Once you have nailed down the type of garment bag to fit your traveling needs, be it for business or other reasons, you can start looking for the particular features that you need.

Storage space

Typical garment bags range in length from 40” for men’s suits to 54” for women’s dresses, and some can expand to 60” to fit longer dresses. Depending on the type of bag you choose, you will either have just the right amount of space to keep your clothes tidy, or you will have extra space to store a few extras or everything you need.


Compartments can make or break the right garment bag. You don’t want to have empty compartments, but you also don’t want to have your toiletries or unmentionables just roaming around loosely in your bag. It’s important to plan ahead to see exactly what you’ll need to store and where.

Ease of moving and carrying

How will you carry your garment bag? With a shoulder strap, with a handle, or will you push or pull it on roller wheels? All are available, so you may as well get a bag that’s easiest for you when you’re on the go.


Weight is important both when you’re carrying the garment bag, and when you’re on a flight. If you plan on checking the bag, airlines have weight limits on individual bags, and you’ll incur a hefty fee by going over the limit. Make sure you check the weight limit of your preferred airline. When using your garment bag as a carry-on, you’ll need to be able to lift it into an overhead compartment, so choose a bag that doesn’t add a lot of unnecessary weight.

Strength of hanger

Most garment bags have a built-in hanger to easily hang the whole bag in a closet, or on a rod. Be sure the hanger is strong enough for everything you plan on storing in the bag.

Garment bag prices

There is a wide range of prices for garment bags, making it possible to find a bag that fits almost any budget. Keep in mind that lower prices can mean lower quality, and if your garment bag will see a lot of use, you may want to spend a bit more for extra durability.

Up to $25

These aren’t very suitable for travel, being more for storage and carrying. They are often a cheap fabric, such as vinyl, and a hanger; no bells nor whistles.

$25 to $50

For the most part, in this price range, you are getting a bag that folds over, and has a handle for carrying.

$50 to $100

This price can land you any number of garment bag styles, most commonly carry-on or smaller garment bags to use as an additional suitcase. You’ll sometimes find models in this range that can be used as a primary suitcase. They usually have shoulder straps, wheels, or both.

$100 and up

These garment bags are higher quality, made from a much better fabric, and are often a main suitcase, often on wheels.


Q. Can garment bags be a carry-on bag on a flight?
Some can, yes, but they need to fit within certain size requirements. Most airlines follow the same specifications: 22” x 14” x 9” or 45” combined.

Q. Can I hang my garment bag in an airplane?
Sometimes there is available closet space on a flight, but not typically. Your garment bag will probably be stowed in an overhead compartment. It’s best not to count on having hanger space; choose a bag that you can either store overhead, or check through as luggage.

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Pack your garment bag according to schedule. The garments you will be using first go in the front of the bag, and ones you won’t be using until the end of your trip will go in the bag.

Q. Does clothing have to always be flat in the bag?
An alternate way to pack your clothing in a garment bag is to roll items tightly. Many garment bags include interior straps or compartments that can be used to secure non-hanging items; simply use these to organize your rolled-up outfits.

Q. How many items can I add into a garment bag?
Most garment bags are designed to hold two to four articles of clothing. It’s best not to add too many items, as the bag can become too bulky to carry easily.

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